They Called Our Town Death Valley

The teenagers from the surrounding towns called our town Death Valley.

I remember standing in front of Adam’s casket. I was 17. He was 17. He had on his high top sneakers. They were shiny and red. At least I think they were red. It was so long ago, I don’t really remember. He wore high tops all the time though. Of every damn color you could imagine. He was wearing the requisite 80′s men’s blazer. Sleeves rolled up of course. Our Adam. His face was at peace, but we weren’t. He’d lost his life a few days before. Driving under the influence of so many things and driving way too damn fast. His head was so damaged from the accident. The casket was open because he was Greek Orthodox, but it shouldn’t have been. He looked dead. He looked horrible. I sobbed as I stood there and I had my senior picture in my hand.

When I was talking to Tracy this week I recalled a conversation I’d had with Adam. It was a snow day during our Junior year of high school. He told me he liked me for more than a friend. I told him I felt the same. Then he broke my tender teenage heart. He told me if we did go out, he would just use me. I thanked him for being honest but inside I was devastated. I longed to taste his kiss, and hold his hand. Hey, we were teenagers, we hadn’t got to the whole sex thing yet.

I stood in front of his casket and cried. Thought about his ending. About us as survivors. The surviving teenagers in Death Valley, Saline, MI. The deaths weren’t over yet. There would be more accidents, a heart attack, a suicide. We’d lose more of our youth, our innocence. And our immortality. I looked at Adam’s face one more time. I said goodbye to his life and his light. His beautiful smile. I dropped my senior picture onto his chest, along with the hundreds of others. Then I turned to my friends and hugged them. We then went outside to the porch and had a smoke with the rest of my stoner friends.

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18 thoughts on “They Called Our Town Death Valley

  1. I remember so vividly that Stairway to Heaven was playing on the radio station as we drove into the cemetery for the burial… other than that it is just a blur… I’ve blotted the details of so many funerals…

  2. I waz lead Paul Bearer for that funeral, he waz my Best Friend. We learned the hard way about love n’ loss in thoze dayz, hardened a lot of hearts. Beautiful piece Nae, I remember it all too well, az the shoez, were red, brand new the day he left us. Oh, and I wanna say I gave you that smoke on the front porch of the Robison Bahnmiller Funeral Home, onacounta, I am still one of your Stoner Friendz. Love you babe.

    • Great comment sweetheart. And yes you just may have been the one that gave me that smoke. And yes you will always be my stoner friend. I will always be your friend Ronnie. I’m glad to know that his shoes were red. I thought they were. He was such a sweet young man. I miss him.

  3. When I think of him, it is not usually as the rebellious teen with long hair and a black leather jacket (though oh, how he loved that jacket, lol)…it is as the chubby 10 year old who used to sneak out of his house and ride his Mongoose to my house to watch old horror movies with me and my dad. Even then, he was breaking the rules, lol. I loved him. I miss him. The world was a better place when he was in it.

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